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Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Pickle Jar

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents’ bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They ended with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate’s treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window.

When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank. Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck. Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. “Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son.

You’re going to do better than me. This old mill town’s not going to hold you back.” Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly.

“These are for my son’s college fund. He’ll never work at the mill all his life like me.” We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. “When we get home, we’ll start filling the jar again.”

He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. “You’ll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters,” he said. “But you’ll get there. I’ll see to that.”

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town. Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed. A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser

where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.

When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me. No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar.

To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make away out for me. “When you finish college, Son,” he told me, his eyes glistening, “You’ll never have to eat beans again…unless you want to.”

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad’s arms. “She probably needs to be changed,” she said, carrying the baby into my parents’ bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes. She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room.

“Look,” she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins. I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a fistful of coins.

With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the same emotions I felt.

Neither one of us could speak.

~ Author Unknown ~

Inlander August 2014 WHY SANDPOINT THRIVES


A lesson from the best place in Idaho

click to enlargeCALEB WALSH

  • Caleb Walsh

Iam back in my hometown of Sandpoint this week. I wasn’t born here, but it’s the place that most defines me. It’s where I truly fell in love with my wife and where we got engaged. It’s where I first went to work after college at a small weekly newspaper I started with a couple of friends. It’s where I learned who I am and what I’m willing to fight for. Sandpoint is home.

click to enlargeReuter.jpg

Sandpoint also happens to be the best place in Idaho. Trust me. My job over the last two and a half years since leaving my hometown has had me traveling to every corner of Idaho, and while this state is filled with beautiful places and amazing people, nothing beats that first drive across the Long Bridge, a local production at the historic Panida Theater or just watching sailboats race from City Beach.

If you haven’t been here yet, make the trip. But even if you never do, there are lessons Sandpoint has to teach about building and protecting greatness that every city could learn from. The key principle being that paradise is worth fighting for.

During my time on the Sandpoint City Council, I came to fully appreciate a local saying that “Sandpoint is a place where we circle the wagons and shoot inwards.” The politics here can be rough-and-tumble. In part, that’s because of the wide diversity of political perspectives, from the far right to the far left. Sandpoint is a town with more than its fair share of eccentric characters, and they are all ready and willing to passionately share what they think.

But the source of our political conflicts runs deeper than just the existence of varying opinions. As a whole, people in Sandpoint recognize they live in a great place and believe that they have a responsibility to keep it that way. They don’t always agree about how, and that can lead to fireworks.

This could end up not being particularly effective. If all we did was have a common drive to fight, Sandpoint could just end up as a mini Washington, D.C. — deeply divided and fundamentally broken. But you have to remember the first part of that classic Sandpoint saying: We circle the wagons.

And what do we circle the wagons around? Our shared values of community and place. Our understanding that this place that we all already love so much could be even better, or could be lost.

Most fights in Sandpoint end up with solutions that, while rarely perfect, end up nudging this small town a little closer towards perfection. Sometimes progress comes in the form of something new, like an old city work yard being turned into a neighborhood park, or a local bus to help locals and visitors get around town. Just as often, progress is about preserving Idaho’s last active, historic train depot or the two-mile lakeside Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.

What I know is that things will keep getting better here, and everywhere that people remember that what we love is worth fighting for. ?

John T. Reuter, a former Sandpoint City Councilman, is the executive director of Conservation Voters for Idaho. He has been active in protecting the environment, expanding LGBT rights and the GOP.

Crazy Days annual sidewalk sales in Downtown Sandpoint.

On Saturday July 31st we had our annual crazy days sidewalk sales. Over 100 retail shops and 30 restraunts participated. From City Beach to 6th Ave shoppers flocked the streets to get the best deals of the year. This year we also had the farmers market running from 9 am to 1 pm.

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